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Defending champions Arsenal hope to retain the FA Cup at the end of this season when they play Aston Villa on Saturday

Recommendations

Over 3.5 goals at 23/10 888Sport

Christian Benteke First goalscorer 9/1 e/w (1/3 odds unlimited places) Bet365

In previous all Premier League cup final ties, league position at the end of the season has proved a decent indicator of likely success. In 75% of these finals, the highest placed team emerged as outright winners, either after 90 minutes, extra time or via penalties and that trend is expected by odds-setters to continue in this game with Arsenal best priced 4/7 and Aston Villa 6/1 to win in 90 minutes.

Recent finals have been close though. Arsenal needed extra-time to beat Hull City last year and each of the previous seven finals have been decided by a single goal. Perhaps reflecting the importance of the game, of all Premier League contested finals only 29% contained over 2.5 goals in 90 minutes. Five of the seven finals at new Wembley have seen under 2.5 goals and only one, last year’s over 3.5 goals

Would we expect these trends to continue for this game? Perhaps the easier side to analyse is Arsenal, who over the 2014-15 season scored 1.89 goals per game and for whom in an era of Chelsea/Manchester City domination of the Premier League the FA Cup represents their best chance of silverware. After poor results towards the back end of the season, the form of Walcott and Wilshere in the 4-1 victory over WBA speaks to the strength of depth they have going into this game

Aston Villa are an interesting side to assess. In terms of the bare statistics, the most glaring comparison between Lambert’s Villa and Sherwood’s version appears in the shooting, goal scoring and conceding data. Overall, Lambert’s Villa scored just 26% of the total goals in their games, while taking only 43% of total shots and 38% of shots that required a save. Sherwood has raised these overall percentages to 38%, 46% and 43% respectively and all three numbers are above 50% during his 13 Premier League matches in charge.

For the season overall Villa scored 31 league goals their lowest ever in a single season. However over Sherwood’s 15 games (with seven wins and a draw) Villa have scored 24 goals, for an average of 1.6 goals a game. Under Lambert in the 24 games in 2014-15 before he left, only12 goals and no less than 15 games in which they did not score

So on the 15 game sample size we have to go at we can see a real change in approach which has seen the introduction of the talented Grealish  and the reinvigoration of Benteke, for whom the Cup final may be his final game for the club, who has scored 8 goals under Sherwood.

Now all this is not to say that Aston Villa are necessarily value for the game overall but it does suggest that this game may buck the trend of low-scoring finals. Under and over 2.5 goals are 10/11 each of two and over 3.5 goals is available at 23/10 with 888Sport, which looks very tempting to me

In terms of player markets, as stated above Benteke has 8 in 15 under Sherwood. The whole side plays through him and to create chances for him. Bet365 offer 9-1 first goalscorer and, which is especially interesting, 1/3 the odds each way unlimited places to score anytime

Recommendations

Over 3.5 goals at 23/10 888Sport

Christian Benteke First goalscorer 9/1 e/w (1/3 odds unlimited places) Bet365